Transitions to Adulthood

We believe that Michigan’s future is contingent on the ways we prepare and support the adults of tomorrow. The Lab is involved in several efforts to improve how young people prepare for and succeed in early adulthood – from workforce and career training to post-secondary education, we’re helping our partners better prepare the workforce of the future.

Grow Detroit's Young Talent (GDYT)

The Youth Policy Lab has partnered with the Mayor’s Office, Connect Detroit, Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation (DESC), and other key stakeholders to evaluate the impact of the Grow Detroit’s Young Talent summer youth employment program on a variety of academic and non-academic outcomes. In the first year of our partnership, the Lab found that participants were more likely to remain enrolled in school, take the SAT, and graduate high school. Moving forward, the Lab will investigate additional questions to inform program design and support continuous improvement efforts. This work includes a survey with the Junior Police Cadets component of the program and studying workforce outcomes associated with participation in GDYT.

Career Pathways in Michigan

In an effort to ensure all Michigan high school students are on paths to economic success, the Lab has partnered with Michigan Department of Education’s Office of Career and Technical Education and the Michigan Department of Labor & Economic Opportunity to study the relationship between various career pathways, including high school career and technical education courses (CTE) and postsecondary pathways, and long-term outcomes such as employment, earnings, and postsecondary enrollment. While the State, districts, and local schools exercise a great deal of control over CTE compared to other aspects of education, we do not know much about the relationship between CTE and these important. Our findings will provide actionable information to state and local administrators who must decide how to organize and fund these programs.


NAF is an educational non-profit focused on preparing high school students for postsecondary education and/or the workforce through career exploration. It operates industry-themed learning academies within existing high school structures. These academies are comprised of courses with career-focused curricula and associated work-based learning opportunities. The Youth Policy Lab is partnering with NAF to analyze the characteristics and outcomes of NAF students in Detroit to understand how students who enroll in NAF compare before, during, and after high school to students who do not participate.

Disclaimer: This analysis utilizes data obtained through a confidential data application process submitted to the Michigan Education Data Center (MEDC)/Michigan Education Research Institute (MERI). Youth Policy Lab at the University of Michigan requested data access and completed the analysis included in this report. The data are structured and maintained by the MERI-Michigan Education Data Center (MEDC). MEDC data is modified for analysis purposes using rules governed by MEDC and are not identical to those data collected and maintained by the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) and/or Michigan’s Center for Educational Performance and Information (CEPI). Results, information and opinions solely represent the analysis, information and opinions of the author(s) and are not endorsed by, or reflect the views or positions of, grantors, MDE and CEPI or any employee thereof.

Winning Futures

Winning Futures operates school-based workforce prep mentoring programs in Metro-Detroit high schools and launched a new four-year experiential learning Workforce Prep Model pilot in Fall 2018. The Lab will evaluate the program’s impact on a variety of student outcomes such as grades, school attendance, high school graduation, post-secondary enrollment, sense of self efficacy, and goal-setting attitudes.

Detroit Regional Chamber

As a part of the Detroit Regional Chamber’s economic development strategy, several programs are focused on improving post-secondary degree and credential attainment. These programs include: Detroit Drives Degrees, the Detroit Promise, and the Detroit College Access Network. The Youth Policy Lab serves as the strategic data partner to the Chamber, supporting its vision of improving the talent pipeline in southeast Michigan region by increasing postsecondary access and success.

Evaluating the Detroit Promise Path

The Detroit Promise Path pilot is an add-on to the Detroit Promise scholarship program that is designed to improve student outcomes by incorporating evidence-based support components. The Lab was engaged by MDRC, the primary research organization evaluating this pilot, to provide supplemental, qualitative evaluation of the impact of this program.

Michigan Data & Policy Fellow: Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity

The Youth Policy Lab launched the Michigan Data & Policy Fellowship program in 2019 to provide the State of Michigan technical assistance and strategic support to achieve specific and measureable improvements in social policies and programs operated by the state. As a part of this program, YPL and the Michigan Department of Labor & Economic Opportunity’s (MDLEO) have placed a two-year Data & Policy Fellow in support of their efforts to launch and oversee the Futures for Frontliners program, a new state scholarship program for frontline workers.

Michigan College Access Network (MCAN) AdviseMI Program

AdviseMI is a college advising program aiming to increase the number of high school students who enter and complete post-secondary education. The Lab is evaluating the AdviseMI program, including examining the fidelity to the model and assessing the impact on the college enrollment rates for high schools where advisors are placed.

Career Technical Education in Detroit

Detroit Public Schools Community District, the Detroit Mayor’s Office, and the Youth Policy Lab have partnered to evaluate the impact of career technical education (CTE) and other career-focused education programs in Detroit on student outcomes. This evaluation seeks to understand which Detroit students participate in which are making a difference for participants, and how to best support continuous improvement in these areas.